Will Brexit affect Health & Safety Regs in the UK?

Good article outlining the impact on Brexit on the arborist, agriculture and machinery sectors. 

Will Brexit affect Health & Safety Regs in the UK?

The UK continues has one of the best health and safety regimes in the world. But with two thirds of our health and safety regulations created and ratified together with the EU, Brexit throws up a lot of questions concerning this record and how things might or might not change after we leave.

Both domestic and multinational, import and export UK businesses have been affected by the volatile financial and currency market brought about by Brexit uncertainty. However, two-thirds of UK businesses have yet to implement any process change despite knowing that Brexit will impact them, citing lack of clarity as the top reason.

With the official Brexit leave date just weeks away, how much will the vote to leave affect the health and safety regulations in the UK? Will the government need to create new laws? Will businesses need to overhaul their processes to continue dealings within the EU?

Eliminating Red Tape

Eliminating EU red tape was one of the distinguishing battlecries of the Leave campaign, which went on to receive majority of the votes in the 2016 referendum. Removing red tape in health and safety regulations is a question of economics and politics of course.

There are two ways that red tape could affect the industry: One, if the UK deregulates to prove trade partnership viability to EU countries, then worker protection legislations could get affected; or two, if the economic downturn continues post-Brexit, the government may not even prioritise regulations at all.

The BHWA also points out that UK politicians would hardly have “the time or the appetite to trawl back through and unpick years and years of EU-led health and safety regulation and legislation.”

Meanwhile, Arco’s Head of Heavy Manufacturing Lee Pickering, expressed concerns over worker protection post-Brexit. “While there are those who still see health and safety regulation as unnecessary ‘red tape’, it’s absolutely imperative that the Government doesn’t see Brexit as an opportunity to reduce worker protection and remains aligned with European standards – the British people voted to leave the EU, not to make their workplaces and lives more dangerous,” he says.

CE Markings

All personal protective equipment (PPE) is legally mandated to be CE compliant, especially for those like tree surgeons and foresters who work outdoors . According to the CE Marking Association, even after Brexit, products within the UK and EU would need to stay compliant and carry the CE marking. There is always, of course, the possibility of regulation change as negotiations develop.

However, as Pickering points out the UK Government should not resort to “a hurried approach to changing regulations”. He also believes that continuing with EU’s PPE policy is “the best approach” via regulations set out by a Mutual Recognition Agreement.

“If the Government plans to revisit any aspects of the safety framework, this must be conducted with a clear timeframe and sufficient opportunities for industry consultation to ensure that the UK’s reputation for excellent health and safety management isn’t compromised,” he says.

The Status Quo

Many believe that Brexit will have little impact on the country’s safety laws, seeing as other countries continue to use UK-derived laws, like the Health and Safety at Work Act, as benchmarks.

A number of EU directives will also not be affected such as:

Management of Health and Safety Work Regulations

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Display Screen Equipment

Back in 2016 shortly after the referendum, IOSH Head of Policy and Public Affairs Richard Jones stated that for UK organisations to continue trade with EU members, “it will be in everyone’s interest to maintain the status quo”, especially since these EU directives are used as standards across the world.

In fact, in 2018 a survey conducted by EEF/Arco revealed that 97% of companies want to continue working within EU regulations.

Government Amendments

Published as a draft in July 2018, The Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 detailed key regulations that will be affected by Brexit.

This includes the Amendment of the Offshore Installations (Prevention of Fire and Explosion, and Emergency Response) Regulations 1995, Amendment of the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, and the Amendment of the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010, among others.

In this 8-page draft, the government listed down relevant UK legislations that can replace EU directives and provided definitions to the amended regulations.

The Great Repeal Bill is also meant to clone EU directives to apply to domestic laws. However, this is not straightforward, as it involves more than 50 EU agencies.

It is likely however, that this will only work if the UK remains in the single market like Norway and Iceland. Without participating in a single market, the UK will not have access to the services of these 50 EU agencies, making it very hard to duplicate the work they do.

Banyard’s Olliff also advocates following EU directives.

“It’s important that when Brexit negotiations are underway and Britain chooses its path, those at the centre of discussions do not forget the positive way EU regulation has impacted UK health and safety policy and improved thousands of lives as a result,” he says.

Bracing For Brexit

Despite Brexit looming large on the near horizon, health and safety regulations continue to be up in the air. There seems to be a consensus among various industry experts to continue following EU directives. However, government negotiations continue and there is a long road ahead, with the the possibility of legislation change not ruled out.

As a business owner operating in dangerous environments, it’s important to stay on top of any changes in legislation and keep updated with recent news so you can strengthen or update your health and safety policies if needed.

About the Author: Paul George is the managing director of Landmark Trading, and has worked in the arb industry for 14 years. Landmark Trading are one the UK’s leading suppliers of arborist equipment.

It will be interesting to see what the final legislation looks like and how far away from the current legislation it looks like. Full article can be see below -


Posted on Wednesday Feb 20